Sat. Feb 24th, 2024

Doctor uses Apple Watch to help Ryanair passenger

By marianna Feb 19, 2024

Josh SandifordBBC News, West Midlands

Dr Rashid Riaz Dr Rashid Riaz on his ski holiday Dr Rashid Riaz
Dr Rashid Riaz helped the elderly patient before his ski holiday in Italy

A doctor used an Apple Watch to aid an elderly woman who suffered a medical emergency on a flight.

NHS doctor Rashid Riaz, from Hereford, was travelling by Ryanair from Birmingham to Verona for a skiing holiday.

During the journey on 9 January, the woman, in her 70s, experienced shortness of breath, with the cabin crew then asking whether there was a healthcare worker on board.

Dr Riaz, 43, stepped forward to help, and, borrowing the device from a flight attendant, was able to use its native health-monitoring software to gauge the patient’s oxygen levels.

He said he discovered the woman had a history of heart issues, having spoken to her in her native Urdu, reassuring her husband when she initially did not respond to his queries.

The doctor knew the wrist-worn technology could further assist his medical inquiries, but he was not wearing his own device, which is when he sought one from staff.

“The Apple Watch helped me find out the patient had low oxygen saturation,” the medic explained.

The Apple website said measurements taken with the Blood Oxygen app were not intended for medical use and are only designed for “general fitness and wellness purposes”.

The iPhone maker is also in a patent dispute with medical technology company Masim over the software and last week revealed it would release Series 9 and Ultra 2 Apple Watches without the blood oxygen feature to keep them on shelves.

Dr Rashid Riaz Dr Rashid RiazDr Rashid Riaz
Dr Riaz is an internal medicine specialist at Hereford County Hospital

After obtaining the watch from a staff member, Dr Riaz then asked staff for an on-board oxygen cylinder.

This allowed him to monitor and maintain the woman’s saturation levels until they safely landed in Italy about an hour later.

The patient, he said, recovered quickly and she was handed over to medical staff, walking off the flight with their assistance.

“I used a lot of my own learning during this flight on how to use the gadget,” Dr Riaz said.

“It is a lesson in how we can improve in-flight journeys [with] this sort of emergency [via] a basic gadget which nowadays is easily available.”

‘Save lives’

Dr Riaz, who works at Hereford County Hospital, praised Ryanair staff who dealt with the emergency.

But he called on all airlines to consider having emergency physician kits as standard.

This would ideally include tools to take basic measurements, diabetic and blood pressure meters, and an oxygen saturation monitor, the doctor explained.

“These things can save someone’s life in an emergency situation,” he added.

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